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Cassie Berta

Cassie Berta

MOLINE — Cassie Berta is in the business of stereotype bursting.

The 20-year-old Bettendorf native is a sophomore at Boston University. She has co-founded a religious feminist movement entitled  "Jewish Empowered Women," but she commonly calls by its "JEW" acronym.

She's the daughter of Jeno and Dawn Berta, of Bettendorf, and attended Temple Emanuel in Davenport, where she received religious training and participated in Jewish ceremonies. 

Berta, and two other Boston University students, started the club as a way to talk about being a modern feminist while being an active, practicing Jew and to talk with other Jewish women about the intricacies of being an empowered woman within the realms of Judaism.

It's a "moving away" from what expectations and stereotypes that exist are for an older Jewish woman, Berta said.

Through her organization she plans to address controversies surrounding anti-Semitism, the intersectionality of religion, and how Jewish women are presented in the media.

"Judaism has a strong religious base set in tradition and needs some updating in terms of modern-day feminism and empowerment," she said.

The film and television production major started the group four months ago when she was 19, and it already numbers about 20 to 25 members, including a few men.

"We have a lot of Jewish women of color in the group," Berta added, but it has not received any negative reactions from any "Jew haters," she said.

Berta hopes to be able to build the membership of "JEW", but doesn't expect it to rival the bigger religious group on campus. She wants to schedule a large-scale seminar, or event, for people to share what it really means to be a Jewish woman, she said. 

"It's long overdue," Berta said. "Jewish women face a lot of challenges and need to feel empowered."

For information about her group, visit facebook.com/bujew.

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Reporter

Leon is a reporter for the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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